Beyoncé recently released her new single “Formation” by performing it at the halftime show at Super Bowl 50. Since that performance, the song and the performance that went along with it have not left the spotlight and the media. My teacher asked us to take a look at the performance, the newly released music video and the song as a stand alone.
The first thing I did was listen to the song without any visuals, I did pull up the lyrics to the song which can be found here. This was the first time I had heard the song, so my my impressions are unaffected by the super bowl performance or anything that has been said about the song in the media since the performance. My initial reaction to this song is that it is somewhat of a ‘anthem’ to the stereotypes she feels she faces as an African American woman, but it also seems somewhat too down to earth for it to be about her personal life. I’m thinking that it could possibly be more about stereotypes that she sees more than that she experiences (Ex. I just cant picture Queen B walking into Red Lobster.) I recognized a few pieces of the song that sounded familiar but the track only sampled from one song that I had never heard of so I think I’m just dreaming.
Next, I watched the halftime show performance, what struck me first was that it appeared as though every single one of the Queen’s backup dancers was African American and had the ‘afro hairstyle’ mentioned in the song. The second thing that caught my eye was the costumes. It is common for all of the backup dancers to have matching costumes but the all black made them look mean like they had a purpose and something to prove, and the gold sashes that came across Queen B’s costume reminded me of a military uniform when the person has ammunition hanging across their chest. The ladies lining up and taking different forms every time Bey ‘commanded them’ made me think that somehow she is leading the ‘battle’ for something having to do with African american rights, possibly a silent tribute to the Black Lives Matter campaign.
Finally I watched the music video for the song, I found it to ring the same message as the super bowl performance but with a more disturbing image. I think through the song and the performance, and the video she is trying to get all these ladies together in the African American community to stand up for what is right and stand against the stereotypes. I think in away she is using the media to her advantage which will probably really help her cause, but she needs to really spell out the cause if she expects anything to change, she can’t expect people to get a spot on interpretation of what she is advocating for. I think the piece really speaks volumes to the kind of leader and advocate she is trying to be within the industry and even outside of it, she is just trying to help herself and her people and isn’t ashamed to user her fame to help her cause.